If you smoke and you live with others or with pets, thirdhand smoke is a great reason to quit.

A study on mice published in the journal PLOS ONE has shown that thirdhand smoke (which settles on furniture and other common surfaces) can lead to Type 2 diabetes but also damage the liver and lungs, interfere with wound healing, and cause hyperactivity.

Thirdhand smoke can settle on surfaces such as clothing, furniture, hair, etc. Scientists warn that it should be avoided to protect the health of the elderly, as well as children living with smokers.

Why are the elderly vulnerable to thirdhand smoke?

Scientists warned that both children and seniors are more vulnerable to thirdhand smoke. They noted: “Because infants frequently crawl on carpets and touch objects exposed to exhaled smoke, they are at high risk for THS exposure. The elderly are at high risk simply because older organs are more susceptible to disease.”

The toxins that settle on surfaces become more toxic over time and are released into the air. These toxins can also interact with other chemicals to produce dangerous compounds. Moreover, they are highly resistant to cleaning agents and easily absorbed by the skin. The Mayo Clinic warns: “To remove the residue, hard surfaces, fabrics, and upholstery need to be regularly cleaned or laundered. Thirdhand smoke can’t be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home.”

What about second-hand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is being touted as a ‘silent killer’ but passive (or second-hand) smoking is linked to hypertension in seniors, as well as coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. Governments across the globe have made big efforts to prohibit smoking in public spaces in order to cut down passive smoking, yet it continues to be a big problem in families in which one or more family members smoke. The main issue is that most people don’t know they are victims of passive smoking, because they don’t necessarily have to see or smell smoke to be affected.

Children and seniors are particularly vulnerable

In some parts of the UK, one in 10 children are still being exposed to toxic secondhand smoke in homes, with the British Lung Foundation launching the Secondhand Smoke is Poison campaign to warn children and adults alike of the harmful effects of inhaling toxins such as benzene, cyanide, or carbon monoxide, through a smoker living in the same home. Steps such as smoking in another room or next to an open window are insufficient when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable from the effects of smoking.

There has never been a better time than right now to quit smoking. If you live with children or an older person, their health and happiness should provide plenty of inspiration but it is also important to think of your own health and wellbeing. Smoking is one of the most harmful lifestyle choices you could make, but also one you can quit with commitment, zeal, and some expert help.